The Education Authority (EA) has launched an eight-week consultation on its first ever Strategic Plan which sets out the organisation’s vision to give children and young people the best start in life.
Since its establisment in April 2015, EA has been engaged in a transition process focused on bringing together the structures of the five Education and Library Boards to create a single organisation.
EA has now embarked upon a wide-ranging consultation excercise which will help shape the strategic direction of the organisation over the next decade.
Launching the formal consultation period with the publication of the draft Strategic Plan 2017-2027, Chairperson Sharon O’Connor emphasised EA’s commitment to meaningful engagement with stakeholders and the public.
“In establishing the Education Authority, our primary aim initially was to ensure the transition from the former ELBs was as smooth as possible and that vital services to schools and youth centres continued to be delivered unaffected.
“Our focus has now turned to transformation and the board is committed to building an organisation that has a truly regional focus, is innovative and forward-looking and delivers excellent education services for all.
“Central to this is the development of a comprehensive Strategic Plan which can deliver positive outcomes for children and young people across Northern Ireland.”
“Our work impacts upon the lives of thousands of young people and their families every day. Their views and the views of a range of key stakeholder groups are of great value and importance to us.
“Since last September, when we began developing our Strategic Plan, there has already been extensive engagement with board members, staff, key education partners, school principals and young people.
“This has helped shape the draft plan published today which sets out EA’s vision ‘to give our children and young people the best start in life.
“EA’s mission is to provide a high-quality education for every child and the draft plan also sets out our key strategic priorities along with the values which will guide how we work.
“The difficult financial situation continues to present significant challenges for the Education Authority as demand for our services continues to grow at a time when budgets are under severe pressure.
“We can no longer continue to provide all of the same services in the same ways, change is essential. As a result, difficult choices will have to be made. Our Strategic Plan must focus on transforming services in a way which delivers and underpins a strong, resilient and world-class education system in Northern Ireland.”
The Strategic Plan sets out what EA will do over the next decade to achieve key goals, deliver consistently high-quality services to the community across the entire region and produce positive outcomes for all children and young people.
It is rooted in the wider context of the NI Executive’s proposed new Programme for Government (PfG), which is outcomes-based and recognises the need to work across boundaries, organisations, groups and communities for the common good.
The Strategic Plan will be supported by a three-year Corporate Plan and annual business plans. These plans will enable EA to incorporate new priorities and respond to new challenges as they arise.
“In all our activities, EA will endeavour to support the emerging PfG in improving educational outcomes, reducing educational inequalities, improving child development and improving the quality of education and skills profile of the population.
“Education impacts the lives of all of us, our families and communities. We want our Strategic Plan to be inclusive, comprehensive and provide a framework for excellence in everything we do.
“As this public consultation begins, we are very keen to have the widest possible input and I would encourage everyone who has an interest in education throughout Northern Ireland to take the opportunity to consider our draft Plan and contribute their views,” concluded Ms O’Connor.
EA’s draft Strategic Plan can be viewed at EA Strategic Plan 2017-2027 along with details of how to respond. The public consultation will run until noon on May 30.